César A. Martínez. Mi Gente

Source Credit:  Content and images from Wall Street International Magazine by Wall Street International.  Read the original article - https://wsimag.com/art/67655-cesar-a-martinez-mi-gente

Ruiz-Healy Art is pleased to announce César A. Martínez: Mi Gente an
exhibition of paintings and drawings of Martinez’s iconic cast of
Batos, Pachucos, and Rucas. This is the artist’s second solo exhibition
with the gallery.

A major figure in the Chicano Art Movement of the late 1970s and
1980s, Martínez’s portraits are icons of Mexican American art history.
Martínez was a teenager during the early 1960s in his hometown, Laredo,
Texas where Pachucos (zoot suiters), Batos (dudes), and Rucas (girls) were part of his everyday life.
Martínez is drawn to the way in which Mexican American family photographs served as intimate, personal
portraits, during a time when only white individuals or groups were being iconized in paintings. Martínez
offsets his melancholic subjects against a vibrant palette of clothes in tension against abstract backgrounds.

The
individuals in Martínez’s works are merely hybrids derived and elaborated from many different photographs
found in high school yearbooks, obituaries, newspapers, and other public sources.

Martínez explains “I’ve never really done art that I would say is political. But I think the kind of art that
becomes politicized, as in my case and in many of my contemporaries, is simply because it had a Chicano
perspective or Chicano imagery. The Chicano Movement was a renaissance in thinking about us and in
creating those institutions and images and writings that reflected who we are. They were non-existent at that
time, we had nothing to relate to, so we had to make it up as we went along. And that was the road to a deeper
understanding of who we are.”

Complementing his iconic cast of Batos, Pachucos, and Rucas paintings, César A. Martínez: Mi Gente also
features a suite of his Serape paintings from 1980 and portrait drawings that have served as a source of
inspiration and invention for Martínez’s most recent paintings. Martínez states, “The new paintings reflect the
spirit of the drawings more and more and I couldn’t be happier because evolution is a good thing, and that has
been happening in different ways. The characters in the Bato/Pachuco series have, over the years, acquired
more and more particularity, and much more so now with the new drawings.” The Serape paintings started, in
the late 1960s, as an ode to the Color Field movement and as a reaction to contemporary art from a cultural
standpoint. Martínez comments that upon seeing the work of Gene Davis he reacted: “These are like serapes!”

The series was an epiphany of sorts though he did not realize it at the time and inspired the artist to create his
own Serape Series.

César A. Martínez (b. 1944, Laredo, TX) is a contemporary artist who lives and works in San Antonio Texas.
His artwork allows him to explore his multicultural identity and provide familiarity to those often not
represented in the arts. Martínez’s work has been included in landmark exhibits like Hispanic Art in the United
States: Thirty Contemporary Painters & Sculptors; La Frontera/The Border: Art About the Mexican/U.S.
Border Experience; and Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation 1965-1985. He was honored with a solo
exhibition, and accompanying book, at the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas in 2009. His work has
been exhibited and is part of the permanent collection of institutions like the Smithsonian American Art
Museum, Washington, DC.; Brooklyn Art Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City;
LACMA, Los Angeles, CA; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum,
Chicago, IL. among others.

Source Credit:  Content and images from Wall Street International Magazine by Wall Street International.  Read the original article - https://wsimag.com/art/67655-cesar-a-martinez-mi-gente